Flying Dog Brewery

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Porter - Imperial
Ranked #153
Ranked #5,158
4.05 | pDev: 10.86%
Flying Dog Brewery
Maryland, United States
Notes: Too weird to live, too rare to die, Gonzo Imperial Porter is bold and forceful, like the man it was brewed to honor – Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Complex layers of roasted chocolate, coffee, brown sugar, and vanilla malt flavors are balanced with a one-of-a-kind hop bite that hits you like a homemade firecracker. Buy the ticket and take the ride by pairing this rich and creamy porter with blue cheeses, smoked meats, BBQ, chili, chocolate and coffee desserts. Best shared with your closest circle of friends— real or hallucinated.

Malts: Caramel, Black, Chocolate
Hops: Northern Brewer, Cascade
Yeas: American Ale, English Ale
IBU: 85
ABV varies
Reviews: 1,511 | Ratings: 3,036 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by burnerfinger:
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burnerfinger from Texas

4.37/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from the 12 oz bottle into my new belgium goblet:

A:super dark, the darkest brew I've seen.also the darkest (burnt orange) head I've seen. the head settles quick and leave not much lacing.
not much action in the pour

S: NICE _ NICE on the nose. coffee/expresso and sweet maltiness with just a touch of hoppy bitterness

T: TOUCHDOWN! this is really all that. deep, rich, sweet, any hops are overwhelmed by the sweet maltiness.. chocolate and coffee base.

M: thick body that somehow gets thinner at the end. leave a nice hoppy aftertaste. the ABV is totally hidden

D: super good for a porter, but really this is no session beer.

Aug 20, 2010
More User Reviews:
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1000lbgrizzly from Illinois

4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Very dark brown, fine coffee head, no carbonation visible through the inkiness. Constellations of lacing.

S: Dark chocolate, roasted almost burnt malt, a hint of alcohol.

T: Bitter, dark malts, chocolate nibs, some hop-provided pine residue on the finish, also contributing to the lasting bitterness. Dark, heavy, lasting, but not overpowering.

M: A little filmy, but pretty fluid. Only slight carbonation, enough to keep it from flatness.

O: Powerful dark flavors, significant hops (for a dark beer), yet easily drinkable. Really impressed, this is my go-to when I need a dark beer in the summer months.

Sep 19, 2014
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Gajo74 from New York

4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Baltic Porter. I thought it was an interesting and complex brew.
It poured a dark brown with a fingernail length tan head and lace that retained well throughout.
In the nose, I detect chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. It also has a woody and smoked quality.
There is a lot going on in the taste. The dark roasted malts predominate and the bitterness is medium to high. It feels like a strong espresso. The roasted malts have a slightly burnt quality that mellows out as the drink warms. Also, as it warms, I notice a sweeter undertone of chocolate. The finish has licorice and a noticeable bittering hops presence. The coffee aftertaste lingers.
The feel is full bodied, fluffy in the mouth and slightly crisp on the tongue.
I liked this one and will definitely try again.

Feb 07, 2016
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Jim_Benz from Minnesota

2.81/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

This is okay at best. Alcohol dominates taste and smell to the point that it's difficult to discern more subtle flavors typical in a porter. As such, this beer is way overpriced and disappointing. But I imagine you could get hammered drinking a six pack. Will not be buying this one again.

Apr 25, 2017
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Mitchster from Michigan

1.85/5  rDev -54.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

$2.70 for a 12oz bottle @ Jacks. Brewed with G.W. 120L Crystal, Chocolate, Black patent malts. Hopped with Warrior, Northern Brewer, Cascade. 9.2% ABV per the website, but this bottle says 7.8%. 85 IBU's, OG=22 p.

Pours out to a clear deep black, forming a good sized very dark brown head with poor retention and good lacing. Moderately carbonated. No sediment in bottle. The aroma is a mix of dark fruits like raisins, prunes, burnt marshmallow, black molasses, dark bitter chocolate, and copious green piney hops. The mouthfeel is harsh with a dense body. The taste....hrmmm....peculiar. It opens with a funky soapy, almost fish-like taste then is replaced by the dark fruits for just a flash before being replaced by burnt marshmallows, charcoal, and ash. Big wave of fusels in the middle. Heavily burnt, then followed by very aggressive green grass in the finish.

Eeeech. Man, I did not like this beer one bit...I'll go so far as to say it's probably the worst beer I've had in the last year. Fish, charcoal, obnoxious fusels, grass, soap....ugh. A total disaster of a beer. I'm gonna have to pour this one down the drain. Not recommended at all.

Sep 10, 2010
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EmperorBevis from England

4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pitch black body with huge foaming thick tan coloured head
Aromas of good fresh ground coffee, treacle & cocoa
Flavour like a boozed up espresso with a heavy cocoa dusting
Huge heavy flavour but the mf is quite easy going
Most Excellent

Jul 21, 2016
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Bruno74200 from France

4.14/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Hop forward porter. It's bold and I like that. I was, at first, very surprised with the taste. It's very bitter and a bit astringent. Too bad it's a bit out of balance, the hops are too heavy compare to the roasted malts. Pine, coffee and burnt malt. Boozy

On a second tasting a lot more mellow with vanilla, licorice, earthy and fruity hops. Nice

Jul 12, 2016
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Kaingers from North Carolina

2.39/5  rDev -41%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Unbalanced, harsh and extremely hard to drink. Bitterness dominates the palate and makes for a rough ride. It literally took me 50 minutes to finish. Thankfully I only purchased a single. Smuttynose has a much better example of a imperial porter, spend your money elsewhere and thank me later.

Feb 04, 2016
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BucBasil from Rwanda

4.14/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 330mL bottle into a tulip glass at the Blue Marlin in Shanghai China.

A: The beer is a pure black color with a small, compact, dark tan head with amazing retention.

S: Roasted coffee, bittersweet chocolate, anise, tobacco, booze underneath.

T: Very strong flavor, very boozy. Also smoky char, black coffee, leather, dark chocolate, wood.

F: Smooth with a bit of a carbonation bite.

Overall: God beer, if a bit heavy and strong on the alcohol character. The barreled version of this addresses this problem. One is good, but I will revisit this one for sure.

Sep 28, 2017
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orbitalr0x from Illinois

4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from the bottle a viscous deep black color with a nice bubbly tan head that lingers atop the brew and leaves strings of sticky lacing as it falls. Wow..hardly any light is getting through this brew. Aromas of dark, toasty roasted malt with some cinammon, cocoa and vanilla. An underlying citric, piney hoppiness is fresh and vibrant..giving this porter a unique nose...pretty heavy on the hops.

First sip brings dark, roasted maltiness featuring chunks of bakers chocolate along with some mild roasted coffee beans. Slight powdered cinammon midway through along with hints of dark fruits and vanilla bean. The brew follows through with a heavy dose of pine needle citric hop oils and finishes slightly chalky on the palate. Quite the enjoyable brew.

Mouthfeel is full with big creamy maltiness. Nice and chewy with a slight dry chalkiness. This brew is amazingly drinkable. I didn't know it was 9.5% until I checked the listing again...alcohol is very well hidden. Sort of reminds me of Alpha Klaus personally...which is definetly not a bad thing. A fitting tribute to the late Hunter S. Thompson (RIP) and probably the best Flying Dog brew I've tried. Thanks to dwvarner77 for bringing a few of these back to IL for me.

Jul 17, 2005
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Hoptometrist from Ohio

4.16/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Mar 24, 2021
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kingjames1 from South Carolina

4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours thick and black, as a porter should (I think I saw a couple of chunks splash in during the pour). Wonderful, alluring tan head, dense and bubbly. Consistent lacing throughout...

Smells of dark chocolate, coffee, and of course, roasted malt-goodness.

Taste includes a pronounced hops-bitterness, bringing some orange and grapefruit citrus, as well as chocolate and roasted coffee beans.

Mouthfeel is great. Yes, its a bit syrupy, but that is the nature of baltic portors, isn't it? But the carbonation is great, even crisp.

Overall, a solid and bold beer. This is, in my opinion, Flying Dog's most impressive offering (Though I've not yet had their Wild Dog, nor thier dogtoberfest for that matter). Very enjoyable. However, being a heavier-than-average baltic portor, one is enough, thank you very much.

Sep 24, 2005
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PhxHorn from Arizona

4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one pours a dark dark brown, almost black, with one finger of tan head. Smells of smoke and chocolate. Taste is very intriguing--smoky burnt malt, caramel, chocolate, and some mystery fruit in there that I can't place, but it keeps hinting at something that made me want to keep drinking more. A silky smooth mouthfeel. Damn drinkable for such a heavy beer. Worthy of HST's name.

Sep 24, 2009
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Ig0r from Virginia

4.72/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got a tall, dark-brown, foamy head from the pour. The color is absolutely opaque black. The head dissipated to a thin layer of small bubbles with absolutely no lacing. Even swirling in the glass looks thick with the residue of the head.

The smell is roasted malt, a bit of sweet bread, and very apparent presence of alcohol. The flavor hits hard from the beginning; chocolate, well-roasted coffee flavors are outstanding. There is very little carbonation but what amout there is contributes to a very full and thick feel. There is a long-lasting aftertaste with a nice transition to a slightly hoppy dry finish.

This would be a fabulous desert beer, but the strong flavor and high alcohol content would make it difficult to enjoy more than a single glass.

Apr 19, 2008
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brokensail from California

3.63/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. The beer is pretty much black and has a very fluffy tan colored foam that stays around forever.

S: The aroma is somewhat disappointing. Coffee, roasted malt, some mild chocolate.

T: The primary flavors in this one are the same as the nose: coffee and roasted malt. There is also a bitterness on the finish that could be due to the malts or the hops.

M: The body is medium and the carbonation is moderate as well.

D: Despite the fact that this beer is nearly 10% alcohol, the booze is quite well hidden until it really warms up.

This is a good beer, just not great. I'm glad I picked one up to try, but nothing terribly special.

Dec 13, 2009
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RuudJH from Netherlands

3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Together with the IPA, this porter is making up for some average experiences I've had with Flying Dog in the past.
Glad I tried this as well.

Colour is very dark brown, light brown fluffy head.
Smell is suprizingly hoppy for a stout/porter. Some roasted malts, caramel, coffee and chocolate in the background.
Similar is the taste, it's quite bitter (IBU: 85) from the hops, more than from roasted malts, I'm sure. Bitter aftertaste as well.
Mouthfeel is decently smooth. The alcohol isn't a problem.

Very decent brew.

Jun 03, 2010
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RobertTh3Texian from Texas

4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The opaque beer before me is inviting. The tan head warns me of what is to come. I have been here before. It's comfortable. Warm and safe. The smell is that of the old and familiar flavours of any good roasted malt. Sweet and fruit, roast and choco/java. The taste tells of something more. delightfully creamy and smooth for a beer in the fridge for five months. A bit of ...plum is it? My palate is not good enough to identify those things yet, but I thinks it be plum. Like all good porters and stouts it leaves those roasty bits of taste on the side of your tongue. Just steller all the way around. Great beer.

May 31, 2010
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acat25 from Texas

4.25/5  rDev +4.9%

Apr 25, 2012
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Cramerican from North Dakota

4.5/5  rDev +11.1%

Feb 16, 2012
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Thirstygoat from Illinois

4.25/5  rDev +4.9%

Oct 19, 2014
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FinchSCF from Michigan

4/5  rDev -1.2%

Aug 22, 2013
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Dwane from Alabama

4.5/5  rDev +11.1%

Aug 10, 2014
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bashiba from Iowa

3.56/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very nice Black with dark ruby highlights and about an inch of creamy head.

Smell was dominated by a strong hop arouma with a very noticeable alcohol smell as well.

Taste was very much dominated by the hot alcohol flavor mixing in with a burnt hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel was super dry, like a good red wine, but alwful thin for this type of beer.

Drinkability is fine, and this goes down pretty easy for a beer of this strength.

Oct 08, 2005
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biker30x from Illinois

4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a pint, nearly pitch black with a thin brown head that is quickly gone. the smell is of burnt coffee and rich figs. Those two themes carry over to the taste which also adds dark molasses and a hint of nuttiness to a thick and rich mouth-filling feel. the coffee and sweetness (both dark and deep) linger afterwards with a roasted fullness that is not overpowering. a full and warming drinking experience that is not too filling or to bitter. perfect on a cold winter evening.

Feb 16, 2009
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rye726 from Colorado

4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'07 12oz bottle poured at 45F into a pint glass.

Dark brown, almost black in color. Nice thick espresso head that settles to a silky cover.

The smell is much hoppier than expected. There are nice floral and piney hops accompanied by roasted malts, coffee and molasses. Basically hoppy malty goodness.

The taste is of roated chocolate malts and dark ripe berries. A slight bitterness is created by the evident hops. These flavors are brought together with a nice full body and crisp mouthfeel.

A very drinkable beer that has an overall good balance.

Nov 08, 2007
Gonzo from Flying Dog Brewery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 3036 ratings